The shoto (sometimes simply called short lightsaber) was a lightsaber with a shorter hilt that produced a drastically shorter blade than its more common counterparts. Relatively rare in comparison to ordinary lightsaber types, shotos were often used in combat by the practitioners of Niman or Jar'Kai.
Essentially the purpose of a shoto in lightsaber combat was to counter attacks by an opponent's weapon while freeing the primary lightsaber for a return strike. To this end, shoto wielders were required to become proficient in the lightsaber techniques of Niman or Jar'Kai in order to reduce risk of injury to themselves due to the increased dexterity needed to master the use of both blades simultaneously. Masters of this technique could deliver a high number of attacks in a very short time, potentially overpowering opponents quickly rather than engaging in a protracted duel. Shotos were also used to counter lightwhips.
Other than blade and hilt length, the shoto was little different from a normal lightsaber; it utilized the same types and number of crystals, could be upgraded with different parts, and took the same Force-sensitivity to construct.
The first shotos, referred to as short lightsabers, were introduced during the Old Sith Wars; one of the most notable users of this secondary blade was the ancient Jedi Master Kavar, who used a matched lightsaber and shoto with blue beams. Uthar Wynn's Sith apprentice and deputy at the Sith Academy on Korriban, Yuthura Ban, wielded a red-bladed shoto as her primary weapon. The Sith Lord Freedon Nadd's lightsaber was a bronze-bladed shoto, which was later taken from his tomb on Dxun by a strike team sent by the Jedi Exile. During the Clone Wars era, the rebellious Jedi Master Sora Bulq carried a shoto which he used in a duel against the Jedi Master, Mace Windu. The Grand Master of the New Jedi Order, Luke Skywalker, later constructed and used one to counter the unusual nature of Lumiya's lightwhip.
The Dark Jedi Pic's and the Jedi Grand Master Yoda's lightsabers were small enough that they may actually have been technically classifiable as a shoto, though they were not used as such. During the Swarm War, the Dark Jedi Lomi Plo also used a shoto in her duel against Jacen Solo and Luke Skywalker.
During the events of the Second Galactic Civil War, when Luke Skywalker became aware of the re-emergence of Lumiya, he had his wife also construct a shoto. As the weapons were considered an essential item to have when fighting a lightwhip because it countered the advantage that the lightwhip had, the ability to go in more than one direction. Mara Jade constructed a shoto with a blue blade, while Luke's shoto had a red blade.
In the RPG video games Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Knights of the Old Republic II, the shoto is referred to as a "Short Lightsaber." It's main purpose is as a side weapon. Shotos as depicted in other media, however, seem to have significantly shorter blades.
Shōtō is also a Japanese term used for swords between 1-2 shaku (roughly 30-60 cm) in length. Samurai often wielded short swords such as shoto in their off-hand, keeping up the comparisons between Jedi and samurai.
|Combat||Duel · Dun Möch · Fast style · Medium style · Strong style · Form "Zero" · Mounted · Niman/Jar'Kai · Sokan · Three rings of defense · Trispzest · Tràkata|
|Forms||I: Shii-Cho · II: Makashi · III: Soresu · IV: Ataru · V: Shien / Djem So · VI: Niman · VII: Juyo / Vaapad|
|Techniques||Cho mai · Cho mok · Cho sun · Dulon · Faalo's cadences · Faalo's Will · Falling Leaf · Flowing Water · Jedi ready · Jung · Jung ma · Kai-kan · Lus-ma · Mou kei · Sai · Sai cha · Sai tok · Sequence · Shiak · Shiim · Shun · Su · Sun djem · Twin Suns · Velocities|
|Variations||Crossguard lightsaber · Curved-hilt lightsaber · Dual-phase lightsaber · Double-bladed lightsaber · Imperial Knight lightsaber · Lightclub · Lightfoil · Lightwhip · Long-handle lightsaber · Lightsaber pike · Protosaber · Shoto / Guard shoto · Training lightsaber / Sith training saber|
|Lightsaber-resistant materials||Armorweave · Cortosis · Darkswords · Force Weapon · Mandalorian iron · Neuranium · Orbalisks · Phrik · Sith alchemy · Ultrachrome|
|Technology||Blade emitter · Crystal · Diatium power cell · Emitter matrix · Focusing lens · Hilt · Inert power insulator · Pommel cap|